My own little hunk of Cyberspace

Sunday, March 02, 2008

My iPhone Review - Is it the ultimate portable device?

Now that I've had my iPhone almost 5 months now, I feel qualified to give my opinion on it.

It was introduced as the ultimate portable music / movie / phone / web browser / email device. Well, after using it for several months, here's my take on it.

The OS is incredible. The way apps launch and are managed is much more advanced than any Windows Mobile machine. The Web browser, although prone to frequent crashes, is absolutely stunning.(Mine has not crashed with since the latest 1.1.4 update- so maybe this is fixed) The touch screen and related controls are the best I've ever seen. The on screen keyboard takes some getting used to - but it is top notch. The camera is excellent. The music player is an improvement on the iPod - need I say more? Movies look stunning. The WIFI connectivity is seamless and fast. Every app and function that Apple has rolled out for it is far superior than it's Windows Mobile competition. My main complaints are what is not included.

This list includes:

1) No MMS support. You might say "What do you need that for - you have real email?" But there are times when I want to send a picture to another, non-iPhone mobile user or web application (like Facebook or Twitter). Can't be done.
2) No cut and paste. I find this EXTREMELY annoying. It's unbelievable to me, with all the advanced features of this device, that it doesn't exist.
3) No Flash support. Rumors are that it's coming, but they are only rumors. This severely limits browsing, since every major website appears to use Flash these days.
4) The asinine headphone jack. Won't work with 90% of audiophile quality headphones without a non-included adapter, only the 5-10$ headphones that sound like 5-10$ headphones (Apple headphones included) work.
5) The EDGE network sucks. Period. Wait until the 3G version releases.
6) No SDK. Which means no 3rd Party apps. You only get what Jobs wants you to.
7) No built in GPS, although I have to say the built in cell tower triangulation on Google Maps is impressive.
8) Crippled Bluetooth - it only works for headsets. Internet rumors say that Jobs demanded this so that no one would be tempted to use a bluetooth keyboard after they spent so much developing the touchscreen. Truth is - it's crippled and really limits the potential of this device.

Now - the good news is that Apple appears to be continuously improving the software, and rumors abound of SDK's and support of the 3rd Party apps. When that happens, I think the iPhone will continue to out pace the Windows Mobile devices, but if not - I see Apple running the risk of being surpassed not in style and function, but in features.

All in all, it's an exceptional device that lacks just enough functionality to keep it from being, in my mind, the ultimate portable device.

Friday, February 29, 2008

It's Not Just TV ...It's HBO. And if it's not HBO... It's Dexter on Showtime!

I believe I have stumbled across the most innovative, extravagant, and strangest show on television. And, I'm absolutely addicted to it.

The show is Dexter, and I'm sure for many of you - this is old news. I don't have Showtime, so I downloaded the first episode after finding out it was being rebroadcast on CBS. Charmaine and I watched it, and had an "oh my god" reaction. Before I knew it, the first season was downloaded and watched in the same weekend.

Since then, we've attempted to pace ourselves with season 2. We watch two episodes a night.

The show, about a blood spatter expert for the Miami PD who doubles as a vigilante serial killer, shares some of the same qualities as the Sopranos. You find yourself caring about a character that is way beyond the realm of a normal person's value system and sensibilities. It stars Michael C. Hall of "Six Feet Under" fame, and the supporting cast is outstanding. Each episode leaves you on the edge of your seat - wanting more. Even when you may not really want to know what happens next.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm Baaack!!!

After taking quite a hiatus from blogging, I'm back. So here's a quick "nickel tour" of some of the highlights of what's been going on since my last post :

Cabo San Lucas
Sequoia National Park
Hilton Head / Savannah / Tybee Island
Costa Rica

Events :
Adam and Becky got engaged
We have a new Grand-puppy

Whew! That was a year and a half in a single post!

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Van the Man" completes the list

As discussed in earlier logs, Charmaine and I have been on a crusade to see the last of our favorite bands who we believed were near the end of their touring careers. One by one, we have notched another concert : Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Peter Gabriel, The Stones, the Eagles, Stanley Clarke, Earth Wind and Fire have all been crossed out. These were all bands that either we'd never seen, or had seen so long ago that it would be a crime not to catch them at least once more. Tonight - the list was completed when we went to the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason, to see Van Morrison.

Again, as with the Stones show, I had anticipated that "Van the Man" would probably be a little past his prime, and again, I was proven dead wrong. At 61, Morrison's distinctive vocals sound as crisp and clear as his earliest studio efforts. His sax playing is top notch, and I think he is the best harmonica player I have ever heard (yes, even better that John Popper). He played for 2 straight hours, with no break between songs, no narration or talking - just one Van hit after another, mixing in some new songs from "Pay the Devil". His jazzy rendition of Moondance was riveting, and Charmaine was almost brought to tears by "Have I told you lately". His set was absolutely perfect. His opening act (which came on 1/2 hour BEFORE the 7:00 pm start time ) - James Hunter - was absolutely incredible, and he came out and played with Van for a couple of songs. Charmaine was able to buy some autographed CD's and meet him during the intermission. His unique vocals and energetic style lead me to believe he will be a favorite of Van fans for years to come.

So this was a "My Name is Earl" moment - checking that last performer off the list. Now - the pressure's off - we've seen all those that we felt like we needed to see - so every show from here on out is a bonus.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hamilton, Bermuda

The next morning, we decided to take the bus to Hamilton. We bought a day pass that covers all forms of public transportation, and walked down to the bus stop and hopped on. As we picked up the locals, they all introduced themselves when they entered the bus. I have never seen this custom done anywhere else. The locals are really some of the happiest folks I've ever met.

When we arrived in Hamilton, it was almost lunchtime, so we shopped for a while and then had lunch at the Hog Penny, which supposedly served as the inspiration for the "Cheers" TV set. I had the best soup - I think it was called Bermuda Fish soup - which they bring to the table, then pour in Bermuda Seal Black rum. All the food was excellent. We left, shopped around some more, then decided to take the ferry to the Royal Dockyards. You really get to see the island by boat, and we enjoyed the trip over immensely.

We then left the dockyards and rode the ferry all the way around the island back to St. George. It was still early in the afternoon, so we decided to return to Tobacco bay and do some swimming. On the way, we saw a scooter accident. A man and his wife flipped the scooter and he broke his leg badly. I helped carry him off the road and we used our water to help clean them up. The wife seemed ok, but the EMT's worked on the man for about 45 minutes before taking him away. We got caught in a tropical rainstorm on the way back, got pretty soaked - but we were wet from swimming already. It let up in about 5 minutes - so we headed back to the ship. We were pretty beat this night and turned in early.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pink Beaches and Wild Scooter Rides

The next morning, we split a cab ride with a very nice couple we met on the cruise to Horseshoe Beach. This beach is undoubtably one of the top 3 beaches we've been to. The ultra-blue water, contrast with the light pink tint to the sand really made it a site to see. As named, the beach curves into a horseshoe shape, with huge volcanic formations on either side. The sand is ultra fine - you can't find a rock, shell or even a pebble in it. As we made our way to the rock formations, we found caves, little pools just big enough for the two of us, some really interesting animals, and even an awesome geocache perched high on a cliffside. We could have spent a few more hours here, but the other couple was ready to return to the boat, so we split the ride back.

With no real agenda for the afternoon, we decided (Charmaine somewhat reluctantly) to rent a scooter. I had to pass a little class to prove to the proprietor of the scooter shop that I could drive a scooter and understood the traffic signs and left handed traffic flow. Witin a few minutes - we were whizzing through the narrow streets and alleyways of St. George. Charmaine's job was to keep me on the left side. This was not a real problem until we came to the first of the many "roundabouts". It's a weird pattern - once you are in the roundabout you must "Give Way" (as the traffic sign states) to anyone entering the pattern. This proved to be quite challenging as many of them had two lanes on the left side, which really added to the chaos. Basically - I just used a heads up approach, and whizzed through them the best I could. Once we climbed the busy city streets and topped the hillside - it was smooth sailing from then on, as we hugged the coastal roads and visited a really cool graveyard, and 3 different forts. We made a complete pass around the upper island - then crossed on to the second island which houses the airport and a couple of nice beaches. This area was ok, but we really loved St. George, so we headed back into town and did another complete loop around the island. It was really fun and challenging, and we got to see sights that are really not accessible any other way.

Next up : Hamilton, Bermuda

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

St. George

We arrived in St. George Tuesday morning, and witnessed quite an event entering the harbor. As we approached the island of Bermuda, a small boat met us (with PILOT painted on the side). I later learned that this is the Harbor pilot, who actually brings the cruise ship through the "cut" to enter the harbor. As we glided through the "cut", I was amazed - you could almost touch the cliff walls as we passed through with so little clearance. For an idea - check out this picture from Google Earth :
As we came through the cut - we were greeted by the locals, with one gentleman in full colonial garb yelling "WELCOME to BERMUDA!"

The Island is extremely beautiful and immaculate. The pastel houses with with their porcelan like white roofs (which are actually water cistern systems feeding the owner's water tank) are stunning. The lush tropical foliage is perfectly manicured, and the people of Bermuda are undoubtably the friendliest I have encountered to date.

We had a great first day wandering the streets of St. George, discovering Tobacco Bay, the Unfinished Church, St. Katherine's Fort and the many Moongates that abound in the historic town.
Next up : Pink Beaches and Wild Scooter Rides